The Beloved

One of my seminary classmates told me of a nice tradition his religious community maintained. Each priest had his own copy of The Rite of Baptism of Children. Written on the front inside cover was the name of the priest and the first child that he baptized. The simple notation in the Rite book was the start of two stories: a priestly vocation and a story of Christian beginning.  Stories that unfold as the weeks become months become years. Continue reading

The Significance of Baptism

One of the habits I hope we all have (or will incorporate into our lives) is to continue to read so as to enhance our spiritual lives. These days there are all kinds of sources: books, podcasts, video, blogs, and more. We do not lack for differing source materials and perspectives. Of course, there is no much, it is hard to know what might be the best mix for you. A good place to start is to try the recommendations of friends, spiritual advisors, folks at church, or links within links within links on what you are currently perusing online. A great way to develop the habit is to sign up for daily/weekly emails or text messages from sources.  Continue reading

What reason for Hope?

The celebration of the Baptism of the Lord marks the end of the Christmas Season. But I have to say, once we get past Christmas it is the life of Jesus on fast forward: Nativity, presentation in the Temple, magi, fleeing to Egypt, return to Nazareth, lost in the Temple and now we’re standing in a long line of people by the banks of the Jordan River.  Ahead of us, waist-deep in the water, John the Baptist makes a no-nonsense, unrelenting call to repentance.  Behind us, at the very end of the long line, stands that once-upon-a-time baby — all grown up.  Thirty years have gone by, and the promised child is about to come into his promise. Continue reading

A final thought

This coming Sunday is the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord. The reading is from the Gospel of Luke (3:15-16, 21-22)

It is interesting to note that Luke relates no encounter between Jesus and John. In fact, before we are told about Jesus’ baptism, we are informed that John has been put in prison! A traditional way of understanding this order of events is that Luke (the rhetorical historian) divides history into three separate and distinct eras.This is something that has been noticed since the Patristic period, in the middle ages, and was the doctoral dissertation of Pope Benedict XVI. It is called the theology of history. Continue reading

The Father

This coming Sunday is the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord. The reading is from the Gospel of Luke (3:15-16, 21-22)

And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

The voice in Luke, as in Mark, speaks directly to Jesus. We overhear the words. In Matthew’s account of the baptism and all three accounts of the transfiguration, the voice speaks to those around Jesus: “This is my son….” Continue reading

The Spirit

This coming Sunday is the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord. The reading is from the Gospel of Luke (3:15-16, 21-22)

 “the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove”

Only Luke includes the phrase “in bodily form”. Jensen (Preaching Luke’s Gospel) makes the point that “Bodily descent has the character of permanence. The Spirit not only descended upon Jesus; the Spirit of God came in bodily form and it will remain upon Jesus.”  He makes a contrast between Jesus and Israel’s “charismatic judges” on whom the Spirit of God descended temporarily. Continue reading

Definitive act of God

This coming Sunday is the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord. The reading is from the Gospel of Luke (3:15-16, 21-22)

15 Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire……. 21 After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

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From John to Jesus: context

This coming Sunday is the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord. The reading is from the Gospel of Luke (3:15-16, 21-22) which describes, in minimal terms, the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.

15 Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire……. 21 After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

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Baptism and Home

I can remember coming home from 3+ years of mission in Kenya, friends were driving me home, and as we wound through trees, I could see the porch light on at my home in the foothills of the Blue Ridge. Even from afar, it shone like a welcoming beacon. It was the sign I am home in a place I have always belonged. It was known, calm, and safe. It was far from the wildness and messiness of life of the slums of Kibera. It is the same moment we have seen on the evening news, in newspapers, on-line in the experience of our men and women serving overseas in foreign lands. Coming home writ large is the heavy bags dropped on the tarmac, the faces of unbridled joy, parents sweeping up children in their arms, a loved one embraced, and the moment they know: I am home.

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My Beloved Son

Next Sunday, we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. Originally, this was celebrated as part of The Epiphany. But over time, the visit of the magi became the dominate theme and focus. In 1955, Pope Pius XII instituted a distinct celebration that focuses solely on the baptism of Jesus. In the West, Roman Catholic celebrate the Baptism of the Lord on the Sunday following Epiphany… although in a year when the Epiphany falls on Sunday January 7th or 8th, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated the next day, Monday.

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:7-11)

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